Addressing the Climate Crisis-Including All Voices

The climate crisis is the largest challenge facing society. Everyone across the globe will be affected by food insecurity the devastating consequences of climate change from sea-level rise and extreme weather events to food insecurity. It is import that everyone is well-informed to address the climate crisis, and science-based solutions are implemented.

As my internships with the International Center for Environmental Education & Community Development (ICENECDEV) and American Geophysical Union (AGU) come to a close, I am reflecting on the push for inclusion in the discussion on climate change.

While AGU and ICENECDEV are two different organizations, they both had the same goals of minimizing the impacts of climate change and ensuring a sustainable future for all communities.

 

Diversifying the Voices in the Climate Conversation

When I first began my journey as an intern with ICENECDEV, I soon realized the organization’s emphasis on gender-equality initiatives and its role in advocating for climate policy. The organization runs several programs to improve the livelihoods and literacy amongst girls and women in Africa. Current programs include:

  • Developing sustainable microenterprises (i.e. solar bakeries)
  • Financial support to women farmers
  • Building agricultural extension libraries for women

In October, ICENECDEV kicked off its annual Miss Environment contest which was established to demonstrate the importance of women in conservation and sustainability. Contestants are young women (17-24 years old) in the field of environmental sustainability who submit an innovative solution to improve in the environment in several issue areas:

  • Wetlands/Oceans
  • Water Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH)
  • Mountains
  • Wildlife conservation
  • Access to Energy
  • Waste management (Plastic)
  • Sustainable Food Systems
  • Land and soil Conservation
  • Forest and Climate Change
  • Environmental health and COVID 19 Recovery
  • Ecotourism

This year 35 contestants shared their journeys and ideas with the ICENECDEV YouTube channel.  As I listened to each contestant share their ideas and solutions I was inspired. Each contestant as young as 17 showed the social, environmental, and economic ideas they developed to address the climate crisis.

Current contestant Yvetter Akem presenting on Covid-19

 

As the climate policy debate continues, there is a growing discussion on the lack of inclusion of women. This topic was recently addressed in an AGU EOS post “Women Are Still Not Heard in the Climate Policy Conversation”.

Photo provided by AGU EOS

An alarming revelation in this article was “Though they comprise half of the world’s population and will be more affected by climate change, women are not often involved in climate policy planning”. The article focused on the participatory climate process in Piracicaba, Brazil. Researchers discovered that more than 80% of participants in the thirty local events were women or LGBTQ and other minority groups. However, participants in those demographics were only invited to speak or serve as mediators at half of those events.

 

AGU is continuously shining a light on issues such as diversity and inclusion through science communication and events. At the most recent AGU Fall Meeting staff and attendees hosted over 80 events on diversity and inclusion in STEM and policy. Topics ranged from “Toxic Ivory Towers and Conversations with Underrepresented Voices” to “Centering Ethical Placed-Based Scientific Practices through the Lenses of Communities of Color”.

To learn more about AGU’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, visit https://www.agu.org/Learn-About-AGU/About-AGU/Diversity-and-Inclusion.

 

Inclusion and Looking Forward

As ICENECDEV continues their gender-equality initiatives, it is diligently working to include and educate every member of society in this important conversation. ICENECDEV promotes environmental education in schools, community centers, and prisons. Each community member is taught the significance of the climate crisis and environmental responsibility.

AGU has demonstrated a commitment to increasing inclusion and pushing the conversation, ensuring all voices are heard in the climate discussion and STEM.

I can confidently say the most impactful aspect of my internship experience was working for two organizations striving to increase inclusion of all demographics in climate policy and STEM spaces. Witnessing the stories of numerous talented, innovative individuals from speakers at AGU to contestants in the Miss Environment contest is truly moving. These experiences have motivated to continue this push for inclusion in climate and environmental policy using the education and advocacy tools provided by Bard CEP.

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